the tour stops
11935 S. Blackbob Road
The Santa Fe Trail once led straight from Olathe to the “Wickedest Little City in America.” Now, the lore of Dodge City and the whiskey-soaked road that led there have been revived at the trailhead on the corner of 119th and Blackbob, where you’ll find a bar and grill that offers a “cowboy chic” dining experience. You’ll see remnants of the wild, wild West here, with sepia-toned photos marking towns that trace the way to Dodge City. You’ll find handcrafted spirits––both clear vodka and whiskey––made at their in-house distillery. And here, you’ll find a pretty straightforward cheeseburger served on a buttered and toasted Kaiser roll. Chef Jim Willey says there isn’t much to grilling the 8-ounce patty, which he does over hickory wood. It arrives juicy, topped with a slice of cheddar cheese, and comes with lettuce, tomato, red onion and a pickle spear to the side.
Patty: 8-ounce beef
Bun: Toasted sesame Kaiser roll
Comes with: Lettuce, tomato, red onions and a pickle spear
500 E. 135th St.
This family-owned pub with a split-level bar of thick, poured concrete offers some hefty dishes, including a pound of wings served either “wet” or “dry.” Chef Andrew Parker’s “We Build This City Burger” was the tallest sandwich of the five presented here for consideration, even though it was the lightest patty of them all, weighing in at 7 ounces. The burger comes on a shiny, glazed brioche-like bun and is piled high with lettuce, tomato and roughly chopped pickles. Parker says that everything is better with bacon, a belief that he backs with an endless supply of rashers sitting on the pass at all times. Left up to his own devices, he’d add a fried egg to his cheeseburger too. But for this challenge, a simple cheeseburger is what he sent out, with the two strips of bacon criss-crossed under a thick layer of melted cheddar. The patty here is griddled, but picks up a hint of smokiness from the bacon.
Patty: 7-ounce beef
Comes with: Lettuce, tomato, bacon and chopped pickles
6830 W. 135th St.
6325 Lewis Drive, Ste. 110
Just like Nick and Jake, childhood friends who grew up across State Line Road from each other, there’s a location of this casual restaurant on each side of the state line. And whether patrons are hitting up the Parkville locale or the one anchored in Overland Park, Nick and Jake’s has become a mainstay for social gatherings with friends, family and co-workers after punching a nine-to-five clock all week long. The unique bun is a novel element in and of itself for Nick and Jake’s burger. The egg bun has a tightly knit crumb, more spongy than cakey, which makes theirs a “soft” burger experience. The patty at Nick and Jake’s is grilled over an open flame, which adds a layer of charred smokiness. To top it all off, the cheeseburger comes with all of the usual dressings: lettuce, tomato, onion and your choice of a side.
Patty: 8-ounce beef
Bun: Egg bun
Cheese: Your choice
Comes with: Lettuce, tomato, onion and your choice of a side
10561 Mission Road
1719 W. 39th St.
Ted Habiger’s cozy eatery on 39th Street is a bit different from other restaurants. The burger isn’t the average fare there, and yet, Habiger’s burger is, perhaps, the most popular item on his lunch menu. The meat for his patties comes from McGonigle’s, a ground mix of chuck that he slings between two hands until a thin layer of fat film coats the patty. The chef claims this natural sealant helps keep in moisture when the meat meets the heat. The patty is juicy and moist with a smooth surface. The Summer Roll bun, made by local bread company Farm To Market, unobtrusively does its part to complete the burger. The patty is griddled, not grilled, which gives it a cleaner, restaurant burger feel. Habiger doesn’t care for pickles on his burger, so they’re served on the side. They’re homemade along with the fries. And Habiger prefers Gruyère to cheddar, so that is what came on my cheeseburger.
Patty: 8-ounce ground chuck
Bun: Summer Roll
Cheese: Your choice
Comes with: Lettuce, tomato, onion,
house-made pickles and house-cut fries
1526 Walnut St.
The last time many Kansas Citians ate at the corner of 16th and Walnut in downtown Kansas City, this restaurant was called JP Wine Bar. But last year the ownership changed hands, and now chef Brian Aaron oversees a seemingly expanded lunch and dinner menu, in addition to a curated wine list, the platform upon which the concept of the space was originally built.
Aaron’s burger was the “phattiest” of the five––some might categorize this one as “gourmet” burger––with 8 ounces of ground Wagyu beef, smoked cheddar, bacon and a grilled slice of tomato, all on a toasted onion Kaiser roll. It’s thick, juicy and full of flavor. And for this package, you’ll pay just a little more: at lunch it’s $10 and at dinner it’s $12.
But with this gourmet burger comes gourmet fries—hand-punched in-house, flocked with grated Parmesan and served with ketchup or truffled aioli, also made in-house.
Patty: 8-ounce Wagyu beef
Bun: Toasted onion Kaiser roll
Cheese: Smoked cheddar
Comes with: Grilled tomato, bacon and Parmesan fries
Price: $10 lunch/$12 dinner
and the winner is...
The winning cheeseburger will be announced in February at KCMag.com, our Facebook page and
featured in our March issue where your review could be quoted!